Life on the Colorado
Make history in Cataract Canyon with O.A.R.S.
Cataract Canyon delivers Utah's biggest and most challenging rapids. Begin your trip on the calm waters of the Colorado River going through beautiful and scenic canyons. But once you reach the confluence of the Green River and the Colorado River, you'll probably want to hang on. Here's where the excitement begins as you go through Brown Betty, Mile Long, and Big Drop Rapids. Read more...
Moab Area Travel Council
25 East Center Street
Moab, UT 84532
Some guides now offer one-day trips through Cataract Canyon. They use jet boats to quickly cover the flatwater and then run the rapids in one afternoon.
The range in time taken to raft down Cataract Canyon, the type of vessel used, and the amenities offered on each trip vary by trip provider. However, trips down Cataract Canyon generally vary from 3- to 6-days. Regardless of the number of days spent on the river, each trip covers the same course; all the same rapids will be experienced on every trip.
In deciding how long to spend on a Cataract Canyon trip, travelers should consider the type of vessel they would like to use, plus their trip budget (longer trips are generally more expensive). Shorter trips typically utilize motorized boats, which go much faster through the calm water, so the focus tends to be on the rapids. Motorized boats also tend to keep passengers a little more above the water than some of the other boat types do. Longer trips frequently utilize dory boats or row/oar boats. In both vessels, the guides do the rowing - which accounts for the longer time required to run the river. These trips provide the same excellent rapids as the motorized options, but have an increased focus on the surrounding natural history, scenery, and overall experience. Optional hikes may also be available on these trips.
At the end of Cataract Canyon trips, return-to-Moab options include a van shuttle or scenic flight. The cost of these options are generally not included in the trip price; be certain to inquire. Additional expenses may include camping equipment. Meals and snacks are generally included as a part of the trip cost.
Regulations for families with small children vary by outfitter and vessel selection. As a general rule, children under seven are not permitted on Cataract Canyon. Some guides set the age limit as old as ten, or even twelve.
If you plan to bring children on the trip, be sure to let the company know in advance. Many outfitters will suggest certain dates to coincide with other trips with children. Additionally, they may provide activities tailored to the ages of the children.
Cataract Canyon trips are popular family vacations. The costs are generally upfront and easy to budget (few, if any, incidentals).
Cataract makes an ideal corporate retreat or group trip. With trips ranging from 3-6 days, Cataract Canyon trips can easily be fit into an extended weekend or as part of an extensive retreat. These trips require teamwork, and often build unity and camaraderie among participants. Many companies offer discounted rates to groups of 10 or more.
Spectacular scenery, fantastic whitewater, a rafting adventure through Canyonlands National Park in warm and sunny southern Utah, carefully isolated from modern civilization is perfect adventure. The red cliff walls tower 2000 feet overhead, touching that flawless Western blue sky.
Here the famous Colorado River flows freely: undammed and unpredictable. Traditionally, mid-May through mid-June is the highest water, as the warming weather melts the mountain snow. The water level varies from year to year . . . sometimes higher and sometimes lower. Some years the level peaks earlier or lasts well into July. Remember that nature controls the natural river flow. Most years Cataract hosts some of the biggest and most challenging rapids in the U.S. Usually, from July on the volume of the water in the river drops and the rapids become more moderate. The rapids are still exciting, but you don't have to be a serious river runner to have a safe and rewarding experience.
There are no rapids until the Confluence of the Colorado and Green Rivers. Here the river doubles in size and the rapids begin. They continue for 15 miles and, depending on water level and lake level, include 24 or more rapids. Here are the notorious ones: first is Mile-Long Rapid, a series of sheer drops and powerful whitewater. Then come a series of rapids affectionately named the Big Drops: Little Niagara and Satan's Gut. In high water, the waves are gigantic and in quick succession. The last day you'll float out of the canyon and onto the edge of Lake Powell and climb aboard a small aircraft for a spectacular fight over this magnificent canyon country.
Cataract is a geologist's paradise. You can see 300 million years of rock history in one glance. The river has sliced through the rock over eons of time and left it totally exposed for all to see.
Wildlife is abundant here, though it takes an observant eye to see it. Because of its many climatic environments, an extraordinary diversity of plants and animals live here. Plants range from water storing cacti to fragile wildflowers. This area hosts the largest herd of Desert Big Horn Sheep in the west. In the heat of the day you'll see eagles and hawks float along the canyon walls on the thermal airstreams. Early morning and evening there's deer, muskrat, coyote and great blue heron moving along the river's edge. Too warm for trout, the Colorado River supports the endangered Colorado Squawfish and the Humpback Chub.
Weather is usually warm and sunny and very user friendly. In May and June the day temperatures are in the 90s, with days in the high 90s and low 100s common in July and August. Brief afternoon showers are very common. Evenings are very comfortable, though cool in the spring and fall. It is a very dry climate, so the heat is not the sweltering kind. Besides, the best part about being too warm is getting into the river to cool off.